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Weishan Culture

Weishan, The Old Capital Of Nanzhao Kingdom

Weishan Old Town is located in Weishan county seat in the south of Dali Prefecture. It’s about 50 kilometers away from Xiaguan (capital city of Dali Prefecture). The name “Weishan” is derived from "Weibaoshan Mountain” in the east.

Referred to as “Xielong” and “Menghua” in ancient times, Weishan is one of the earliest places in Yunnan to be set as counties. Weishan Old Town is claimed to be “the old capital of Nanzhao Kingdom” and is in fact the cradle of Nanzhao Culture. In 737, Pi Luoge-the chieftain of Nanzhao Tribe-was supported by the Tang Court to unify other 5 tribes around Er’hai Lake Area and establish the Nanzhao Kingdom (738-937) (“Nanzhao” means “the south tribe”. It is actually Mengshe Tribe that was situated in the south of Er’hai Lake Area).

Weishan Old Town is not only a state-level historical and cultural town, but also one of the “4 famous cultural towns” (Wen Xian Ming Bang) in Yunnan Province (the other 3 ones are Kunming, Jianshui and Dali). With a history of more than 600 years, the ancient city of Weishan conserved now was firstly built in the 22nd year during Zhu Yuanzhang’ reign. The ancient city of Weishan is also known as Menghua City (méng huà chéng 蒙化城), which used to be the birthplace of the ancient Nanzhao Kingdom. Around the ancient city of Weishan, there built solid walls, with four gates on each direct (including the East Gate, the West Gate, the South Gate and the North Gate). In the center of the city, there is a Xinggong Tower (xīng gǒng lóu 星拱楼), meaning a tower surrounded by stars. The shape of the ancient city is like a square seal. Inside the city, all the roads are arranged according to the chessboard type, with 24 streets and 18 lanes crossing each other.

The imposing Xinggong Tower and Gongchen Tower (gǒng chén lóu 拱辰楼) are the landmarks of the ancient city of Weishan. The houses in the ancient city were built according to the structure of the ancient Chinese style which was popular in the Ming and Qing dynasties. There are many ancient buildings dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties both inside and outside the ancient city, such as the Confucius’s Temple, Wen Hua School (wén huá shū yuàn 文华书院), Yu Huang Pavilion (yù huáng gé 玉皇阁), and Dong Yue Palace (dōng yuè gōng 东岳宫). “Yu Huang” means the pavilion of the Jade Emperor who is the Supreme Deity of Taoism. “Dong Yue” means the palace of the east mountain.The north gate tower of Weishan is Gongchen Tower (gǒng chén lóu 拱辰楼), which was built during the reign of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang. On the tall walls, there is an ancient building in the style of double-hipped roof with Xie roof (zhòng yán xiē dǐng 重檐歇顶), covering an area of five rooms. On the south wall of the gate tower hangs a horizontal tablet inscribed with four Chinese characters “Kui Xiong Liu Zhao” (kuí xióng liù zhào 魁雄六诏), while on the north wall hangs a horizontal tablet inscribed with “Wan Li Zhan Tian” (wàn lǐ zhān tiān 万里瞻天). The walls and the tablets are all imposing and powerful. The ancient tower is 23.5 meters tall, with the bottom wall of 8.3 meters tall. The structure of the tower is supported by 28 pillars. Climbing along the steps from the two small gates in the east or the gate in the west to the top of the tower and look around, tourists can see four main streets stretching respectively towards the directions of the east, the west, the south and the north. The houses are neatly arranged. From the top of the tower, tourists can have a panoramic view of the whole Weishan County, with magnificent scenery.

The ethnic culture of Weishan is also seductive. You can enjoy the Dage (sining and dancing) of the Yi people and Dongjing Music. Weishan is also a producer of bandhnu (tie-dying) products that sell well both at home and abroad.

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